A team sport or game similar to baseball that is played on a smaller field with bases 60 feet apart using a ball larger than a baseball which is pitched underhand.
There are two basic versions of softball, fast pitch and slow pitch, each of which uses the same equipment and playing area and, except for a few variations, essentially the same rules. Fast pitch softball is played with 9 players as baseball is.
As often said and believed, the focus in a softball game has always been on pitcher. A good softball pitcher can throw the ball underhand as fast as a baseball pitcher can throw a baseball overhand and because of this, pitchers play a major role in fast pitch.
The action is fast and base runners are permitted to steal, provided they do not leave the base before the ball leaves the pitcher’s hand.
Slow pitch was created so that older and less athletic players could compete in a game that would have more emphasis on hitting and fielding than on pitching.
Slow pitch differs from fast pitch in these essential points: the pitch must be thrown at moderate speed and must travel in an arc from the time it leaves the pitcher’s hand (at least 3 feet above the point of release but not more than 10 feet high).
There are 10 players on a side with the extra player typically playing a short outfield position.
Bunting and base stealing are not permitted, the base runner cannot leave the base until the ball has reached the batter, and a batter who is hit by a pitch is not awarded first base.
A variation of regular slow pitch softball is played with a ball 16 inches in circumference. The rules are the same, but the distance between bases is only 55 feet for men and 50 feet for women.
The name softball is a bit misnomer since ball is nearly as hard as a baseball.
The object of the game is to score more runs (points) than the other team by batting (hitting) a ball into play and running around the bases, touching each one in succession. The game is played in usually seven innings.
The game is officiated by one or more neutral umpires. Players and umpires are generally free to ask for a brief stoppage at any time when the ball is not in play (called a time out), or immediately following a play once its outcome is clear.
Each inning is divided into a top half, in which the away team bats and tries to score runs, while the home team occupies the field and tries to record three outs; then a bottom half, when the teams' roles are reversed. Some leagues play with a reduced number of innings or with a time limit, rather than the traditional seven innings.